Do you ever feel smugly satisfied with your Christian life?
You show up at church each Sunday, read your Bible daily, read clean Christian books like Jerry Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace . . .
And so on, until, like the Pharisee who thought he was better than the tax collector (Luke 18:11-12), we, too, through self-righteousness, can “become the classic example of religious pride and self-satisfaction.” That’s how Bridges puts it in Chapter Two.
How do we keep that from happening?
Partially by not confining sin to only the biggies: adultery, murder, stealing . . . and instead recognizing our own “refined” sins, the ones that nice pew-sitters like us commit.
They’re just as obnoxious to God.
Bridges says many of these sins are in areas of interpersonal relationships. (Feeling uncomfortable yet?) Things like:
- an unforgiving spirit
As much as we don’t want to admit it, these transgressions are also rebellion against authority.
The seriousness of sin is not simply measured by its consequences, but by the authority of the One who gives the command.
Dare we look inward to see if we’re guilty of the “hideousness of the sin of self-righteousness”?
The problem with self righteousness is that it seems almost impossible to recognize in ourselves.
We will own up to almost any other sin, but not the sin of self-righteousness.
When we have this attitude, though, we deprive ourselves of the joy of living in the grace of God. Because, you see, grace is only for sinners.
And while we are new creations in Christ—saints standing guilt-free before God because of Christ’s blood—we do still sin.
We still need grace.
Bridges quotes a Puritan preacher: “Even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.”
So ends Chapter Two with this:
So our best works can never earn us one bit of favor with God.
Let us then turn our attention from our own performance, whether it seems good or bad to us, and look to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God’s provision for our sin, not only on the day we trusted Christ for our salvation but every day of our Christian lives.
* * *
Do you struggle with self-righteousness, too?
Summary of Chapter Two at Challies, “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector”
[NEXT WEEK: Chapter Three, “Preach the Gospel to Yourself”]